Studio.89 Statement Regarding Incident at United Against Islamophobia Event in JuneWritten by Studio.89
On Saturday, June 22nd, Studio.89 held an event titled United Against Islamophobia in collaboration with Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) in Mississauga, Ontario.
This panel touched upon Islamophobia in a Canadian context, with the growth of right-wing politics followed by an upcoming federal election we will witness hate-mongering and discrimination. However, there are policies local politicians are pushing to tackle instances of hate, Islamophobia and xenophobia. We discussed ways to challenge growing hate and xenophobia in the Canadian context.
Along with Islamophobia, we discussed forms of hate and xenophobia that often target the Sikh and Hindu community. Panelists included Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament Rima Berns-McGowan who has spearheaded a Bill in provincial parliament to commemorate January 29th as a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia Act in remembrance of the Quebec Mosque Attack.
During the event, an individual with a well-established history of harmful and false accusations against Muslims (or "Muzzis" as they say on their social media page) attended.
The individual in question was recognized by several event attendees and organizers due to their history of disruptive behaviour at similar events, which included ripping a Quran in the face of our Muslim youth staff member, screaming abusive rhetoric, and harassing Islamic community members. We find this individuals’ previous behaviour to be unacceptable and did not want a harmful incident taking place during an event meant to spread knowledge, community and love. Due to the discomfort of attendees and previous experiences with this person, we kindly asked them to leave. They refused and were escorted out by police. The police informed the individual that should they return to our business, they would be deemed as a trespasser. This individual is well-known in their community and has now directed their followers to harass our organization through one-star ratings, phone calls, and hateful messages.
No matter what, we will always take action and speak out against hatred and bigotry. As a youth-led community hub, we aim to be a safe and inclusive space for ALL community members, from our cafe patrons to event attendees to our youth volunteers and youth staff team. We strive to create a welcoming environment, an accessible space where everyone feels safe and included. If the past or current behaviour of any person makes others feel threatened or uncomfortable, we reserve the right to ask that person to leave.
To our community; In a climate where it is so easy for people to spread hate and create division, please stand with us in solidarity. This incident drove home the importance of creating and attending programming that sparks conversations surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Studio.89 is a non-profit community hub and youth-centered organization focusing on arts, activism and education while providing a free space for events, workshops, and resources, located in Mississauga, Ontario.
Studio.89 was created to fill many gaps within our community services. Their 16 ongoing programs serve the general public with a focus on specific disadvantaged populations including underserved youth, refugees and newcomers, marginalized women, victims of domestic violence, the LGBTQ2+ community, and neglected seniors, all the way to our monthly programming themes such as Black History, Autism Awareness, Pride and more.
Studio.89 also offers incubation space for their 80+ non-profit partner organizations, including SMILE Canada, Azeeza, and Young, Gifted & Black. As an advocate for youth empowerment, Studio.89 delivers free arts-based programming, including film-making workshops and art therapy classes, for ELD classes within local Peel Region Schools.
Studio.89 also offers job training and leadership opportunities to youth with disabilities and other barriers to employment through their social enterprise cafe. With over 45,000 in event and program attendance, Studio.89 hosts over 600 events per year, with a record of 673 events in 2017 alone.
Studio.89 is funded by your support and contributions.
To learn more about Studio.89, please visit www.studio89.org.
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